August 2007

Gay “pride” observances took place in major centres across Canada this year, as they do every summer, but as with last year, there were some challenges in terms of funding and sponsorships. The situations pointed out again how dependent the “pride” phenomenon is not only on business and media support, but on government backing as well.

Last year, Ottawa’s annual gay “pride” parade, for example, was threatened by the fact that its organizing committee was effectively bankrupt and needed a cash infusion of $25,000 from the city to stay afloat.

This year, in Vancouver, the city’s Pride Society reported it lost thousands of dollars worth of money as sponsors including Air Canada, IKEA, Hewlett Packard and Citytv pulled their support.

In Montreal, this year’s gay “pride” parade was actually cancelled before being revived by a hastily assembled community organization. A low turnout at the parade, in addition to expenses for insurance and security, were being blamed for the initial cancellation.

As for those celebrations that did take place in Canada this year, here’s a look at who supported them, starting on the West coast and moving eastward.

In Vancouver, the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre hotel and Cathay Pacific Airways stepped forward to replace some of the sponsors who bailed on gay “pride” in that city this year. Other corporate sponsors included Molson, Pepsi, Starbucks and CTV . On the government side, Tourism Vancouver and the City of Vancouver kicked in cash.

Pride Calgary sponsors consisted exclusively of local businesses, several of them gay-oriented. Citytv , the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts and radio station Energy 101.5 were listed among the supporters.

In Saskatoon, Pride Festival sponsors were also local, but a number of government agencies contributed funding: SaskCulture , Saskatchewan Lotteries, SaskFestivals , the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society and the City of Saskatoon.

Winnipeg Pride Festival sponsors were local as well, including the Free Press newspaper, the Delta and Marlborough hotels and radio station CKUW 95.9 . On the government front, the province of Manitoba and city councillor Harvey Smith were “bronze sponsors.”

In Hamilton, VIA Rail served as “official presenter” of that city’s Pride Gala and Pride Awards, while Labatt acted as a “platinum sponsor.” Great Glasses and the Canadian Autoworkers Local 555 were “gold sponsors” and Theatre Aquarius and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union were “bronze sponsors.” Media support came from CH television. Government-associated agencies offering their backing included the Ontario Trillium Foundation , the City of Hamilton and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

In Toronto, Labatt topped the list as a “premier sponsor,” followed by “partner sponsors” including TD Canada Trust , VIA Rail and Polar Ice Vodka. Other sponsors included CTA , Rogers , Motorola , Sirius Satellite Radio, Pizza Pizza, OPSEU, Great Glasses, Zipcar, President’s Choice, Baskin Robbins on Church Street, Procter and Gamble , CTV and the Toronto Star . Public sponsors counted among them the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation , York University, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the province of Ontario and the City of Toronto.

In Ottawa, VIA Rail, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Red Bull energy drinks were corporate supporters of Capital Pride, while the city of Ottawa gave public money.

In Montreal, corporate sponsors of Divers Cite included Belle Gueule beer, Air Canada and TD Canada Trust . A number of media sponsors stepped forth, such as Le Devoir, 24 Heures, CBC television, Musiqueplus , and On the public front, the province of Quebec, the Government of Canada, the city of Montreal and Loto Quebec contributed financially.

Halifax Pride enjoyed the support of local businesses exclusively, such as Casino Nova Scotia.

The gay lobby staged an “International Day Against Homophobia” on May 17, which in Canada attracted support from numerous government agencies, particularly in Quebec. That province’s justice ministry, youth secretariat and human rights commission all were listed as “major partners,” in addition to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the city of Montreal, the National Bank, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the CSQ union, Le Devoir and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The Canadian organizers of the event say they aim for “complete, unlimited social acceptance of homosexuality” and want “‘homophobia’ wiped out.” Begun in 2003, the day is held each year in dedication to “the social recognition of homosexual experience.”